Friday, 31 January 2014

Lost and found

Some times you put things in storage and forget about them. It wasn't until today I was made aware of some such things that I had forgotten about. The reason for those bags my sis found was forgotten was one many probably are familiar with: moving. When I first moved out at age 18 to go to uni, I took loads of unnecessary things with me to fill my small student flat. Other things stayed behind, such as a bunch of repurposed knitting yarns I never used after becoming old enough for find finger knitting to be too childish. One thing I took with me was a bag of fabrics and yarns.

Some of the fabrics are leftovers from stuff we made in school (the blue, floral bag with my name on it was the one we used in syslöjden to store our WIPs, pincushions etc in) or scraps I bought way back in the early 90's with my pocket money. I can even remember exactly when and where I got some of them! There's one cat fabric I found after digging through a huge pile of scraps in a fabric shop. There are even a few pieces from the fabric I sewed my ball gown in when we were having the end of school ball in 9th grade (=last mandatory year in the swedish school system and last year in högstadiet). The crochet yarns are remants from a time when I was fond of crochet as a kid. Some are yarn I bought, but most of the stash are yarns I got from mom and a few are old yarns that's been lying on a shelf in the house since my grandma and aunt died in the 70's.

When moving back after uni to attend another uni closer to home, a lot of stuff just stayed in the moving boxes and bags as it wasn't my plan to stay for long. I wanted to have another flat of my own, as any young adult would want, but with the housing situation around Lund being what it was and what with being able to save a lot of money by living at home and commute to uni I stayed. Then I found it hard to get a job and was forced to stay as there was no choice. Still, most of the stuff stayed in the boxes and bags as I either didn't need them (no need for an additional set of drinking glasses and cutlery) or still nurtured a hope to move out soon, making unpacking a waste of time. The bags and boxes where stuffed away here and there. In fact, it wasn't until my sis found the bag of fabric and yarn today that I knew some of the bags were put away in that particular storage space where she eventually found it as part of the big clean out.

It's a big nostalgic, finding many scraps of fabric that I bought 20 years ago. After finding some of my old stash in my personal storage, I sort of thought that was all I had left. Despite still missing the blue bag (see above), which I sort of knew still was filled with fabric or yarn, it seems like I accepted that what I'd found was everything. That the rest was somehow just dreamt up or that I forgot using it for sometimes years ago.

But now it's all here, out in the open and accounted for. It's really high time to use them now. Surely they can't just go back in storage another 10 or 20 years! Ok, some fabrics are no longer to my taste, but others are still as good as when first bought. Can't wait to come up with an idea for them...

I've been wanting to do a rag rug for some time now and because of that lamented not having enough rags. Well, it looks like I can find some more rags now. Not the cat fabric, of cause, and there are other nice, large pieces of fabric that are too good to be torn into rags, but there seems to be scraps I could sacrifice for a rug.

My main reason for doing a rag rug isn't my green background, actually -- nor that I've found some inspiring rag rugs online. It's simply that I want to make a rug or two for my bedroom, but with all the cats that treat rugs like the perfect place to barf -- or, worse, pee or poo in protest of the sub-par litter box cleaning -- I don't want to spend much money on it. None, really. And making my own rag rugs could both a fun and economical option.

Just need to find enough useful rags -- and pick a techniques as there are many fun ones to choose between: crochet, knotting, weaving, locker hooking, tambour, braiding etc.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

To bead soup party or not bead soup party...

Lori recently posted the dates for this year's Bead Soup Blog Party and just as last year I'm going back and forth on whether to sign up or not. Of cause I love making a bead soup and I enjoy getting a bead soup and the challenge of using it. I love seein what others get and what they do with their soups.

It's just... Not so much the cost of shipping or of the soup (big stash, can find good things to send without shopping) even if I can't deny money is tight as always. It's stil worth it. The big issue is that, especially as the BSBP has grown, I feel overwhelmed and stressed out by the blog hopping. I know no one will dislike me for not comment on all 500+ blogs (that's how many participants there were last year, I think) and I know there's no time limit for how soon I have to get around to visiting other participants, but even a tenth of that can feel like a lot and I feel bad if I don't hop much as the hop is an essential part of the event.

Still, despite my hesitations it's hard to resist signing up. Maybe I should just be better at making friends to swap with privately or join a swap group instead. But BSBP is still a bit special as I've joined several times (no all parties, but many), there's so much eye candy to see as so many participate and just generally, it's a fun way to find someone you've never met before to swap goodies with.

Sign ups aren't until next sunday so I still have a little time to think it over, make up my mind about whether the pros outweigh the cons. I'm always very tempted and find it hard to resist -- and always feel all out of energy when it's time to blog hop. But swapping is fun and seeing what others make for the BSBP is fun... It's hard to choose...

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

More loom knit swatches

Ok, I'll soon stop posting loom knitted pieces as they'll not that exciting. Promise more jewellery, cats, flower and landscape photos etc soon, you know, the stuff the blog's supposed to be about. It's about every craft I try too, of cause, but it's jewellery, cats and photos that I enjoy the most personally -- and I feel like I've been away from jewellery making and beading a little too long now. (Just too bad I'm fascinated by dried flower jewellery right now and it's totally the wrong season to find any good materials in the garden or forest -- and I want to make it more personal by using material from the farm.)

The main reason I'm mostly playing with the knit loom now is that first I needed a scarf and in researching loom knitting techniques I got hooked, had to find out how many different stitches there were etc. It's also about convenience: it's even easier to loom knit than bead or embroidery sitting in bed, being all cozy under two thick blankets and with a bunch of cats surrounding me. Perfect place to be when it's cold and windy outside! (Also, with no kittens and lazy adult cats who are more or less hibernating during winter, there's no problem with yarn chases or cats jumping on your work etc.)

And so that's why I made this piece, which is just a square of chenille yarn. Same yarn as this, but instead of the usual e wraps, I used the figure 8 stitch this time. Or, at least half of the time as I was working back and forth and couldn't make the stitch work when going from right to left. So every other row is e wraps.

The swatch is made on my large loom. Yes, the one that looks like this right now. I just started this piece on top of the half-made cushion and it worked for me, the other knitting wasn't in the way at all when just making a smaller piece like this.

My plans for tonight is probably just feed the cats and get back into the warm bed and find something to do there. Perhaps start the only thing on my loom knit to-do list right now: a pair of matching wrist warmers matching my scarf. Just need to calcute if I have enough yarn left. Or "calculate", it's more measuring the yarn, loom until I have used half the yarn see how far it'll get me. Knitting doesn't get more casual than that.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Bicoloured loom knit sampler -- part 2

I've made a new sampler while figuring out if it'll be possible to get yarn to finish my cushion (see last post) or if I need to add another colourway (that doesn't match). Did the same mistake as last time by working late at night and thinking I'll remember exactly how I did the different stitches... Some tests didn't work out so I'm just going to show the parts that were successful, not the whole sampler.

 First of all, I learned the figure 8 stitch. Above you can see it done in orange yarn to the left and mixed orange and purple yarn to the right.

 I also made a variation making a row of figure 8 stitch (orange) followed by a row of basic knit stitch (e wrap, purple).

 I then made yet another variation of basic knit stitch (e wrapped). Let's see if I remember... I made a row of orange and then added purple to every other peg (odd numbers) followed by a row of purple with orange on half the pegs (even numbers). At its best, it gives you a fun pattern as the one you can see on the left side.

 The last thing I tried was making some sort of lacy pattern. I'd seen a YT video about eyelet stitch, but couldn't remember how it was made. So I just made up something, inspired by something faintly remembered from another loom knit video, trying to create a pattern making alternately big and small gaps. You can see the pattern a bit better when stretching out the knitting a bit, like below.

 Personally, I prefer the wrong side of it.

And, yes, I'm doing this without a basic knowledge of knitting vocabulary -- something I realised could be a problem when finding a beginner-intermediate knit loom pattern using knitting abbreviations and when learning that stockinette stitch means slätstickning, which I've of cause heard of but just barely knew what it was. So far, however, my knitting analphabetism isn't a problem, I'm just playing around and don't worry too much about advanced patterns or learning about yarn weights or anything. It's fun, it's easy -- and I'm not that interested in learning to knit as I'm content knowing how to crochet and french knit, so that's enough for me.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

A minor case of yarn shortage

Well, getting the knit loom out turns out to perhaps be one of my more successful attempts at stash busting. Unfortunately, I've already run out of yarn. Or, well, I've run out of a yarn, sitting here with what's supposed to be half a soft throw cushion. The yarn ran out before getting half way.

You see, I mostly use my yarn stash for jewellery making and embroidery, projects where I rarely use more than a few metres. Even when I was a kid doing crochet, calculating how much yarn was needed wasn't an issue: either I made tiny doilies using thin crochet thread that lasted forever or I made granny squares, happily mixing whatever yarn leftovers I could find. So the idea of calculating how many skeins of yarn you need for a project and buy that amount (and check for dye lot numbers to avoid colour issues) is pretty unknown to me. Add to that the fact I don't usually use such bulky yarn, making it even harder for me to estimate how long it would last.

In this case, I used a cheap yarn that I bought solely for its softness. It wasn't bought with any specific project in mind, nor did I even glance at how much yarn each skein contained. And because of that I'll now have a WIP attached to my knit loom until I can get another skein of that yarn. Not even sure if they still sell it, at least in this colourway, but that's plan A. Plan B will be to finish it with another yarn of the same type, but in a not exactly matching colourway, that's in the stash. Fingers crossed plan A will work. And that soon as I can't start a new project using the loom until the first one is finished.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Bicoloured loom knit sampler

Ever since I finished my (almost Radiant Orchid) scarf, I've wanted to play more with my knit looms. Just wish I had a couple in a different size or at least a straight one too, but they're a tad expensive for just some plastic (bought mine on sale, 50 % off) so I might have to give it a go with some sort of DIY solution. Or maybe try and find someone who's tired of her looms and want to give them away?

As I don't need more scarves, nor really any more wristwarmers, and I'm not sure I need a new hat, I ended up focusing on just learning new stitches or variations on the basic stitch instead. Don't know how others feel about it, but personally I think making samplers is fun. (And as with doodling, you don't have to make up a design nor focus on creating a finished result as it's just all about learning and enjoying the process.)

One of the things I wanted to try was alternating between two colours and so I picked up two cheap acrylic yarns from my stash and make this sampler. The yarns aren't exactly the same weight (=thickness), but they work well together. The purple yarn is a solid colour while the thicker, autumnal orange yarn is variegated.

In hindsight, a smart idea would've been to add little tags for each section while still remembering the different variations I tried. Didn't do that as I went through the sampler a couple of times last night and had no problem remembering. That was, however, at close to 2 AM so my judgement may have been a bit clouded and now I'm slightly uncertain about a few of the rows, but I will still try my best a walk you through the variations tried last night. As it was mostly just playing around with the basic knit stitch, I'm not sure if the stitches have any official names. I will just call them by how they're done -- if you know a real name for any of the stitches, please feel free to mention so in a comment below.

 Now, let's look at the whole sample from the beginning. Note that you can click on the two photos of the sampler (the pics with numbers on them) for a close up.

1. First thing I wanted to try was vertical stripes, which you create by alternating between two yarns: every other peg purple and inbetween that orange. Tried two versions, but you can't really see a difference between them in the finished piece.

2. Over to simple horizontal stripes. Just simple one row of purple followed by a row of orange and so on.

3. 1 over 2 variation. Still alternating between the two colours for every row.

4. As above, but 1 over 3.

5. Knitting with doubled thread. Basic knit stitches.

1. Double thread.

2. Horizontal rows with 2 rows of purple followed by 2 rows of orange. First I tried a basic stitch (left) and then 1 over 2 (right) as it was easier to remember which colour to use for the new row.

3. Orange with purple accents made by adding additional loops of purple yarns on every second or third peg on every other row. Hard to see as the orange yarn sometimes almost fully cover the purple yarn (see photo below).

4. Checkered made by doing vertical stripes using basic stitches, but after two rows changing the colours (orange yarn on "purple" pegs and vice versa).

5. Checkered 2x2 as above, but using 1 over 2 stitch. Again, easier to remember when to change colour when always having two loops on each peg when starting a new row.

6. Checkered like in 5, but changing colours every row instead of every other row.

7. Basic knit stitch, but skipping every other peg so a lacy pattern is made.

Just a close-up of the part with purple accents where you better can see the purple stitches blended into the orange knitting.

The last checkered pattern might at first glance look similar to the horizontal stripes (1over 2), but when looking closer you can see that the stitches are offset in the checkered pattern. But there is also a difference you can't really see in the photos: the checkered pattern is slightly thicker as there's more yarn on the back (or, in the case of tubes like this, the inside).

So what's next? I was tempted to try three colours last night, but opted to focus on just two first. So three colour variations might be the next step. I also want to learn a few other stitches -- after all I've never done something as simple as making a purpl stitch! Should probably abandon my tactic to watch a how-to YT video, believe it seemed easy and I now know how to do it, just to go to another room (and house), pick up my loom and realise I forgot a crucial step... Don't like to sit and work in the computer room and I guess I'm more of a book person anyway...

As for the sampler, I'll just hang on to it and use it as a reference, perhaps adding the aforementioned tags. My sis wondered if I made a snake, but I think knitted snakes look better when just changing colours/yarns and not when mixing stitches as the width varies so it'd look like a snake digesting an oddly shaped prey.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Accidental soundtracks

Do you ever do something while listening to the radio and it keeps repeating one song so much it sort of becomes your personal soundtrack for a specific thing. I associate the online/computer game Peggle with Fullmetal Alchemist and more precisely with the third intro (featuring the song Undo by Cool Joke) as I was watching the anime -- fell so in love with it! -- while being hooked on Peggle. Send someone away by José Gonzales feat. Embee is a song that makes me thing of another little online game I got addicted to (but can no longer find). Many of the current top hits are something I associate with a theme or activity online. And right now, somehow, the song Counting Stars (by One Republic) is repeated so often on P3 Star that it's become the soundtrack for my research/wanderings into mori kei. There's no objective reason to link the two, really, but in my mind the two are for ever intertwined now.

Sometimes the only stars you can count are the ones you put up yourself indoors. Though my string lights doesn't feel that romantic or mori (in my mind, I'm no mori kei expert). I'd like something like below in the window -- cute, simple and poetic. But then I remember the cats...

More dreamy lights from my Candlelight and light ideas pinboard:

What can I say? I love string lights...

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Snow wave

Finally, the winds died down. Of cause that meant going for a walk with the camera in hand. Now, unfortunately, I'm watching the handball game which starts in less than an hour so there's no time to show many pics. But I just had to show this, a wave of snow sculpted by the wind.

The yellow colour is due to the low sun shining directly on the snowdrift.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Tiny bottles, please!

One thing about wanting to dabble with paints is that you get more and more interested in different medium that you keep finding. The problem is that these media are usually made for artists and come in big jars. Not big for someone who wants to cover a couple of canvases, but very big for someone who want to use them in mixed media jewellery. Some media/paints can be found in smaller bottles, especially in samplers like this one or the lumiere paint in the pic above, but as for most of the products that interest me I have yet to find smaller bottles. That goes for e.g. tar gel, modelling paste, crackeling paste, sand mortar, clear granular gel etc.

It's of cause a money issue: I don't want to spend a lot of money on supplies I'm not sure if I will use often or not. But it's also about my not wanting to buy something that might get too old before I even get halfway through the jar. It feels so unnecessary.

I have found a few DIY recipes for e.g. modelling paste that might be cheaper than buying a big jar of it and you can make as much or as little as you think you need. And some stuff, like glass bead gel, feels like something I could do using the micro beads I already have in my stash.

Unfortunately, I don't know an artist who uses these media and paints or one option would be to ask to get (buy) little quantities from his/her jars. With the black gesso, my sis and I bought it together, but she isn't as interested in media as I right now. And even if she were it'd still be expensive with all the different media I want to try. So all I can do is really make do, try one thing at the time when I find it for a good price -- and hope to win a lot of money on a scratch ticket soon so I can buy all the supplies I want!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Digital doodles

Just having some fun with one of the pics in the previous post. Since they're pretty dull, what ever you do to them is an improvement, really... 

Original photo:

It's cold outside

Well, I can't complain, I got snow just like I wanted (instead of all the rain we've had so far). Unfortunately, we also got wind. Rather a lot of wind, making it less than ideal to go out and take beautiful photos of a snowclad landscape. It doesn't really look like that now, rather it's just snow coming both from above and drifting from one place to another. In some places you can still see the grass and in other places there's real snowdrifts now.

The cats? Well, now they're getting a bit used to it being winter again, but the first day of snow (day before yesterday), I spent what felt like an eternity standing in the door -- in a t-shirt! -- whilst the cats tried to decide if they were going out -- no, in -- no, out -- no, in -- no, just stopping on the threshold. Ubbi says it's fine, being the only semi-longhair he's the best insulated one. Wish I had some footage of the cats going out when the blizzard-like weather had just started. How they crouched, blinking into the wind and seems almost offended by the weather. Several of them have been doing u-turns these last couple of days: "I want out, let me out! Yay, I'm out!... Oh no, changed my mind -- don't close that door, I'm going in!"

You can't really see the snow drifting and big snowflakes coming down from the sky and brushing of the roofs in those pics (nor can you gauge how much it's been snowing). Here's one where you get more of a feel of the wind and snow:

Brrr! So I'm trying not to complain -- and I don't mind the snow as I don't have to go anywhere, I can stay indoor with some hot cocoa and a warm blanket. But I'd love it if the winds would calm down a bit, both so I can go out for a photo walk and so it'd stop blowing straight through the old house. No more noise would be a welcome relief too.

Friday, 17 January 2014

January bead soup palette

Thanks to a very generous an unexpected christmas gift, I spent the holidays playing with swarovski crystal pearls -- and drooling over the blackberry pearls, which I then finally got to see IRL. I decided early on to use some of the pearls for the january palette and here it finally is -- or, well, I couldn't choose so there's two variations and three pics for this month's bead mix.

The last one is the same colours as the first palette, but using different beads and chain.

You can also go with just one of the colours plus black (matte metal or shiny faux pearls):

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Radiant Orchid

No one's missed that Pantone made Radiant Orchid the color of the year 2014. And that means I have the first colour challenge for the year sorted out. Time to get the beads and supplies out to challenge myself to create something in this colour. Which shouldn't be too hard seeing how I love purple. But that doesn't mean there hasn't been problems.

The first problem was defining the new colour. For some time I thought -- and I wasn't the only one to think so -- that Radiant Orchid was the colour seen in the picture on the Pantone website, the one with orchids that you can see below. Problem is, it's not. It's the the warmer hue I've inserted in the bottom left corner that's Radiant Orchid, according to Pantone's color formulas & guides page. Or is it?

When playing around with the spring/summer palette I used an eye drop tool to copy the colours from their images of the palette. Doing that I got a Radiant Orchid that's closer to the background colour than the square based on their own html colour code... That's the colour you can see below to the left.

Now, of cause, those details doesn't really matter that much. It's just a shade of colour some company want to hype in order to make money and gain PR. But it's the principle (and, yes, in my head I said that as "Det är principen, Månsson"). I can't help it, I want things to be correct. Even if it is silly little things, I'll take the time to investigate it.

Also, I didn't care much for the colder purple I first thought was Radiant Orchid. It was a bit boring, not having the same wow factor as, say, the men's equivalent to it, Magenta Purple (see above, right). But Radiant Orchid according to the Pantone colour forumla is yummier. In fact, I have a top in pretty much that exact shade. A little darker, but the same type of colour.

But what colours do I have in Radiant Orchid? What do I have available for my personal colour challenge? Even after defining what the colour looked like, I was so uncertain about which bead colours would be the closest match. The main issue was the fact I didn't have the computer near the beads nor do I have a physical  swatch so I had to try and remember what it looked like when rummaging through the bead stash.

First I looked at my swaros. I don't have many, but of cause a third of the stash is purples. My first thought when seeing Radiant Orchid was Cyclamen opal. Unfortunately, I only have a tiny rivoli pendant in that Swarovski colour so I still don't know if that's the best match. Some bead shops suggests light amethyst, but to me it feels way too pale.

In the picture above you can see light amethyst (big big), cyclamen opal satin (bicones, too purple in sunlight to match), cyclamen opal (left pendant) and -- I think -- antique pink. Of cause, it's hard to get all the hues precisely right if you're an amateur photographer like me, but I hope the frame below makes it easier to compare the colours to Radiant Orchid.

 Yeah, my swaros are ok, but not the best match. I feel like radiant orchid beads should be opaque or frosted, not transparent, to really be at its best. Opal are ok, but they often have a range of hues in them so while cyclamen opal feels like a good match one second, it looks too pink or too violet the next. If I am to buy new colours for this challenge of mine, it won't include cyclamen opal, I'm afraid.

Seed beads then? Surely I should have a lot of purple seeds? Well, actually not as many as you'd think, at least not many rosy purples. The three closest matching colours I found were opaque berry pearl matte (Preciosa Ornela) and  Gilt Lined Permanent Finish Lavender Toho). The first feels like the better match, but it does feel too red/ dark rose -- I really want that dark lilac tone you can see in Radiant Orchid. Yeah, Goldilocks here...

I did a couple of pics with the beads framed with Radiant Orchid (using Pantone's colour code, b163a3) to make it easier to compare the colours. Of cause, it's still a photo so the bead colours might not show up exactly the same hue as in real life, but it does make it a little easier to compare colours.

That's my top, mentioned above, that I used for yet another colour comparison. The colour of the plastic rosebud beads is, according to one bead shop I saw them in, simple called purple (or more precisely, lila).

Fire-polished beads then? Well, the closest match has to be my chalk alexandrite purple luster beads. Which I forgot to take a photo of so I did it now, indoors and in relatively poor light that might not show its true colours. In fact, I haven't even compared it with the other beads in daylight. Bear with me, I'll add a better photo later, but until then I hope this will make due.

But the best match I've found in my stash so far isn't even a bead colour, it's a bottle of acrylic paint in the colour Blackberry and a square of chalk. Unfortunately, I can't really get the chalk to show its real colour, it comes out very pale and matte in the photos. It's much more vibrant IRL.

Comparing with my top (above) and the matte berry pearl seeds (below).

And then it was the blackberry paint.

There might be some yarn too. Haven't actually gone through the yarn bag as I didn't think that far. Closest matches -- and now I'm just going though the stash in my head -- are probably these two:

You can see more of that fluffy yarn Anna in this post. Dont' have much left, though, after finishing the scarf so it might not be enough for a Radiant Orchid project. Maybe I need to buy more despite my shopping ban, but I don't even know if it's still in stock. That last pic is of a rolled up pom-pom fringe/trim if you didn't see that -- check out this post for more about that. Darker and more rose coloured than the Anna yarn above. It's closer to the berry pearl seed beads than the purple yarn (from Rusta) in colour.

So that's what I've got to work with right now. No idea where to go from this point, but at least I have something to play with even without buying beads particularly for this personal challenge. Though in the end, I'll probably used the colour of the year as an excuse to buy more seed beads...
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